Every Sunday School loses members. Classes that grow are ones that provide care, ministry, and organization to meet needs and plug the leaks. In a blog post entitled Plugging the Leaks in your Sunday School I listed Sunday School leaks: death, grief, job transfer out of town, change of job schedule/demands, divorce, personal illness, illness of a family member, transportation issues, lack of relationships in class, lack of involvement in the class or class activities, lack of a place of service within the class or church, children's sports activities on Sunday morning, anger/conflict, and declining irregular attendance.
In Part 1 and Part 2 of this four-part series, I shared responses to the first six leaks (leaving out death). In Part 3, I will share responses to the next three: transportation issues, lack of relationships in class, and lack of involvement in the class or class activities. Consider the following:
- TRANSPORTATION. My mother-in-law is 86 years old and lives more than an hour away from us. Sadie loves her church, and she is still driving well. At some point in the future, she will likely be unable to drive. Then she will have to depend on others to take her to Sunday School and church, or she will have to stop attending. What does the child, teenager, senior adult unable to drive, and person who has lost his/her license do if they want to be in your Sunday School? Most of our attenders have an extra seat in the vehicle they drive to church. Ask an attender who lives nearby to pick up the individual gives time to develop relationships on the way to and from church. It can be an opportunity to disciple the individual if needed. Organizing a van ministry can also be a solution.
- LACK OF RELATIONSHIPS IN CLASS. From my doctoral research, I discovered that those who drop out tend to have two or fewer relationships in class. What can we do to increase the number of relationships? Since people tend to sit in the same seats in class every week, why not change the chair arrangement regularly? Why not divide the group into smaller groups by numbering off? Why not get groups of three together during class to pray together? Why not change up care groups? A class could encourage three individuals or couples to eat a meal together in a home or elsewhere twice during a quarter and then change groups. Adding regular times for class ministry projects can also lead to deepening relationships.
- LACK OF INVOLVEMENT. This takes intentionality on the part of the teacher and class leaders. Lecture is passive for the learner. In order to get people to stick and stay in class, we need to increase their participation in class and class activities. One way for the teacher to do so is to add other methods to lecture. Add discussion, debate, drama, and question and answer. Add assignments. Get in smaller groups for part of the time. Help them make spiritual progress, and they will be less likely to disconnect. In addition, it is important to invite regular attenders and absentees to class fellowships and projects. Keep varying what is planned in order to capture the interest of each person. Personal invitations usually produce the best results.
For more ideas about connecting people and providing care, check out these blog posts:
- Plugging the Leaks in Your Sunday School
- Sunday School’s Neglect of the Second Encounter, Part 10B
- The Best Adult Sunday School Teachers Are Facilitators
- Addressing Active Sunday School Learners Through Projects
- Transformational Sunday School Does More Than Lecture, Part 1
- Wisely Choosing Sunday School Teaching Methods, Part 1 and Wisely Choosing Sunday School Teaching Methods, Part 2
- Sunday School Teaching Methods for Impacting Discipleship, Part 1 and Sunday School Teaching Methods for Impacting Discipleship, Part 2
- Sunday School Teacher, You Are in Charge of Keeping Your Learners’ Attention!
- Sunday School Lessons: Interest and Progress, Part 1 and Sunday School Lessons: Interest and Progress, Part 2
- Why Is There No Variety of Teaching Methods in Sunday School?
- Marriage of Application and Story in Sunday School
- Pray, Plan, and Prepare to Teach Sunday School for Lives to Change, Part 1
- Presenting a Creative Sunday School Lesson